We Need Diverse Books Launches Indigenous Kid Lit Website | News Bites

We Need Diverse Books offers a new website with resources for librarians and educators about books by Native creators and how to use them in the classroom; Newbery-winning author Susan Patron has died; YALSA releases Teen Top 10 list; federal education employees will create AI guidance and policy for K-12; and more in this edition of News Bites.

We Need Diverse Books offers a new website with resources for librarians and educators about books by Native creators and how to best use them in the classroom; Newbery-winning author Susan Patron has died; YALSA releases Teen Top 10 list; federal education employees will create AI guidance and policy for K-12; and more in this edition of News Bites.

We Need Diverse Books launches Indigenous website

We Need Diverse Books has launched Indigenous Reads Rising (IRR), a new website dedicated to "celebrating Indigenous children’s literature of Native Nations."

The site features booklists and articles on Native American literature, land acknowledgment, and tropes and stereotypes, as well as extensive resources for teachers, librarians, and readers. The goal of the resources is to help educators use Native books in the classroom and offer guidance and best practices on how to teach those books.  

"So many educators are eager to connect Native books to young readers, but they’re not sure where to begin or how to approach the subject matter,”  author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Muscogee Nation) said in a statement announcing the new site. “The way IRR centers and lifts up the perspective of Indigenous educators is a terrific solution. Everyone can follow their lead with confidence."

Kid lit loses another creator

Author and children’s librarian Susan Patron, best known for the 2007 Newbery Medal-winning novel The Higher Power of Lucky, died October 24 at age 75.

Patron was a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ (SCBWI) Advisory Council, and the organization posted the following obituary:

“To say that Susan Patron was a champion of children’s books dating back to her childhood is an understatement. From 1972 to her retirement in 2007 she was the Senior Librarian and Juvenile Materials Collection Development Manager at the Los Angeles Public Library.

Over the course of her tenure at the library she trained and mentored librarians in 72 branches.

In 2007 she was presented with the Newbery Award for her book The Higher Power of Lucky (Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Richard Jackson). Two more Lucky Books, Lucky Breaks (2009) and Lucky For Good (2011), both published by Simon and Schuster, followed.

Susan Patron’s first book, Burgoo Stew, was published in 1990, was followed by three more picture books and then another book, Maybe Yes, Maybe No, Maybe Maybe (Orchard Books), a 1993 Parent’s Choice Award Winner.

Focused, kind, and generous, she never hesitated to volunteer her precious time in order to serve on children’s book award committees, including those for the Caldecott and Children’s Literature Legacy Award.

The SCBWI was fortunate to have her expertise and wisdom in helping guide the organization from our very earliest days.

She was, of course, a brilliant and compassionate author, a beloved librarian, and a fierce fighter in the ongoing battle against censorship, but most of all, for most of us in children’s books, she was a friend. We celebrate her life while deeply mourning her loss.”

YALSA Teens Top 10

YALSA released this year's Teens' Top Ten list, titles nominated and chosen by teen readers. 

The 2023 choices, listed alphabetically, are:

Teen Winners













The 10 winners came from the teens' Top 25, listed alphabetically below: 

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir. Razorbill.
Alone Out Here by Riley Redgate. Disney Hiperion.
Blackwater by Jeanette Arroyo and Ren Graham. Henry Holt and Co.
Crumbs by Danie Stirling. Clarion Books.
Dig Two Graves by Gretchen McNeil. Disney Hyperion.
Don't Look Back: A Memoir of War, Survival, and My Journey from Sudan to America by Achut Deng and Keely Hutton. Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Five Survive by Holly Jackson. Electric Monkey.
Gallant by VE Schwab. Greenwillow Books.
Girl Who Fell Beneath the Sea by Axie Oh. Feiwel & Friends.
Gleanings: Stories from Arc of a Scythe by Neal Shusterman. Simon &Schuster Books for Young Readers.
Gold Mountain by Betty Yee. Carolrhoda.
I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys. Penguin.
Icebreaker by Hannah Grace. Pig and Bear Publishing.
The Ivory Key by Akshaya Raman. Clarion Books.
Lakelore by Anna-Maria McLemore. Feiwel & Friends.
Lesbiana's Guide to Catholic School by Sonora Reyes. Balzer + Bray.
Lia and Beckett's Abracadabra by Amy Noelle Parks. Harry N. Abrams.
Lightlark by Alex Aster. Harry N. Adams.
Messy Roots: A Graphic Memoir of an Wuhanese American by Laura Gao. Balzer + Bray.
A Million Quiet Revolutions by Robin Gow. Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.
My Sister's Big Fat Indian Wedding by Sajni Patel. Harry N. Adams.
Nothings Burns as Bright as You by Ashley Woodfolk. Versify.
Nothing More to Tell by Karen McManus. Delacorte Press.
The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra. Disney.
Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer. HarperTeen.

President Biden’s AI executive order addresses K-12 education

President Joe Biden’s executive order about artificial intelligence (AI) included directives for the Department of Education to create AI resources and guidance for K-12 within the year.

“These resources shall address safe, responsible, and non-discriminatory uses of AI in education, including the impact AI systems have on vulnerable and underserved communities, and shall be developed in consultation with stakeholders as appropriate,” the order said. “They shall also include the development of an 'AI toolkit' for education leaders implementing recommendations from the Department of Education’s AI and the Future of Teaching and Learning report, including appropriate human review of AI decisions, designing AI systems to enhance trust and safety and align with privacy-related laws and regulations in the educational context, and developing education-specific guardrails.”

Congress re-introduces Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) reintroduced the Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act, which would prohibit the use of federal funds to maintain a police presence in schools and provide $5 billion in new grant funding to help schools hire more counselors, social workers, and other mental and behavioral health personnel, as well as implement services in schools "that create positive and safe climates for all students," according to the legislators' announcement.

The Counseling Not Criminalization in Schools Act would:

  • Prohibit the use of federal funds for maintaining police in schools.
  • Invest billions to help schools hire counselors, social workers, and other trauma-informed support personnel necessary to create safe, supportive learning environments for all students. The grant would also help schools implement programs to improve school climate, such as school-wide positive behavioral interventions and supports, and invest in trauma-informed services and professional development. 
  • Incentivize states and school districts to end the criminalization of young people, particularly Black, Native American, and Latino students, immigrant students, students with disabilities, LGBTQIA+ students, and other historically marginalized students, and instead invest in learning environments where all students thrive.

The legislation was first proposed in 2021.

NCAC film contest winners

National Coalition Against Censorship has named the winners of its Youth Free Expression Film Contest. The contest invited students to submit three-minute films addressing themes related to freedom of expression, censorship, and the importance of open dialogue.  NCAC received the most submissions in the contest's 15 years. The films were judged by a panel of filmmakers, writers, artists, and activists.

The winners are: 

1st Place: “Listen to Me” by Adyson Vega, San Antonio, TX

2nd Place: “Copycat” by Kevin Gruen, Philadelphia, PA

3rd Place: “The Suggestion Box” by Jamie Lu, Riverview, FL

The first-place winner receives $1,000 and a scholarship to the New York Film Academy. The second and third-place winners receive $500 and $250, respectively.

To view the winning films, visit ncac.org/filmcontest. 

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